As with both of yesterday’s group finales, this afternoon’s pair of matches feature three teams battling over the two qualification spots and one useless team who are already out. In Group D, the useless team are of course England, a source of great pride for everyone back at home. However, the World Cup is always better for getting rid of the chaff and besides, a much-changed England team can still affect today’s action even if it isn’t in their own favour. Their opponents, Costa Rica, are already through to the knockout stages for only the second time in their history, but they need a draw to guarantee that they will top the group and avoid a probable last-16 tie against an impressive Colombia.

The other match is far more intriguing. One of Italy or Uruguay are going to depart today and their fate is entirely in their own hands in what promises to be a fascinating shootout. A draw will suffice for the Italians, while Uruguay must win. Both teams have played one really impressive match (against England) and one absolute stinker (against Costa Rica) so there’s no real clue there. In terms of the form guide, Uruguay’s impressive match was the more recent but there are question marks about whether or not the team are over-reliant on the brilliant Luis Suarez. Both teams can still mathematically win the group, too, so there may be additional rewards to pushing on and going for goals.

Join us here just before 5 to find out what happens. Will Uruguay do it? Will Italy play for the draw with utterly predictable consequences? Or will the Italian team switch on and make all these questions look redundant? Whether or not England will win is a non-question: they almost inevitably will. 3-0.

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Rob June 24, 20147:19 pm

And Wayne Rooney may be five caps short of a century, but its not because of friendlies. There are as many friendlies now as ever. Rooney has played 58 competitive England games. More than Peter Shilton, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright. More than Charlton & Wright combined. In fact, only Gerrard (69), Cole (68), Beckham (68) and Lampard (59) have played more competitive games for England than Rooney.

Rob June 24, 20147:19 pm

I think it was actually Tyldesley that said that Mark.

Mark June 24, 20147:12 pm

I cannot believe it. Ian Wright offering the right perspective on the Suarez affair.
Meanwhile, here’s Townsend’s funny: Tyldesley: “We think Suarez has bitten Chiellini. That match is now live on ITV4.” Townsend: “Bye-bye everyone.” Yes, you had to be there. But still, credit where its due. That was “better” from Townsend.
Just hope Colombia can cleanse the system with a typical display tonight.

Ian June 24, 20147:02 pm

Phew. Well, that livened up a little bit in the end. There was a moment just after that Suarez incident when I thought, “No, wait, hang on, DID HE JUST…?”

To be frank, I think that both Italy and Uruguay stank the place out to England-esque levels this afternoon.

Mark June 24, 20146:57 pm

And Alastair Mann really REALLY just said this: “But lets look at the positives. Did Suarez bite Chiellini? Should Marchisio have been sent off?” And they are the POSITIVES? Right-o.

Ted June 24, 20146:55 pm

Full time in Natal: Uruguay 1-0 Italy. They head through but Costa Rica top the group, a small glimmer of justice on a rather dismal afternoon of football.

Mark June 24, 20146:55 pm

Uruguay through. “Surrounded in controversy.”

Ted June 24, 20146:53 pm

The sad fact remains, England lost to both of these showers. Deservedly, too.

Mark June 24, 20146:52 pm

The Suarez “bite” is not proven yet BTW.
England 0-0.

Ted June 24, 20146:51 pm

Italy are trying their best, but they’re not very good

Ted June 24, 20146:50 pm

The all-singing, all-fouling, all-scoring and all-biting Uruguay team just have to hold on for 4 minutes.

Mark June 24, 20146:49 pm

Five added minutes in Natal.

Mark June 24, 20146:48 pm

If Uruguay weren’t hopeless on the break, they’d be through. But they are, so they aren’t yet.

Ted June 24, 20146:48 pm

It’s a rule that shouldn’t really ever have to come up

Ian June 24, 20146:47 pm

Right. I’ve almost stopped laughing. I’m going to say this here and now. I think anybody caught biting someone three times during football matches should surely be banned for life as being a danger to those around him.

Mark June 24, 20146:43 pm

And Andy Townsend has just made a VERY funny comment. I’ll tell you later…I’m dizzy

Mark June 24, 20146:42 pm

Costa Rica now might NEED the point to win the group.

Mark June 24, 20146:41 pm

Godin bullet header from a corner. Of course, Godin was very lucky not to get two yellow cards against England, as Tyldesley reminds us for the 189th time…

Ted June 24, 20146:40 pm

Thank heavens for that (i.e. something) – Diego Godin breaks through, a header from a corner kick. 1-0 Uruguay and they just need to hold on for ten minutes.

Mark June 24, 20146:40 pm

Goal Uruguay.

Mark June 24, 20146:39 pm

He fucking has, you know. Suarez has attempted to BITE Chiellini. The Italian has just spent a minute turning his shirt into an off-the-shoulder number to prove it

Ted June 24, 20146:39 pm

oh now then, Chiellini alleges that he’s been bitten by… you know it… Luis “Rabies” Suarez. There’s still plenty of red cards in this game, if not goals.

Mark June 24, 20146:38 pm

Tyldesley thinks Greece could still make the last 16?

Ted June 24, 20146:36 pm

I’ve always been strongly of the opinion that one is too many international friendlies.

Mark June 24, 20146:35 pm

So you don’t think there are too many international friendlies? Rooney is 5 short of 100 caps. There are too many international friendlies. Still 0-0s.

Ted June 24, 20146:34 pm

Gerrard replacing Jack Wilshire, a substitution foreshadowing the day that The Ghost Of Billy Wright keeps Gary Cahill on the subs’ bench.

Mark June 24, 20146:33 pm

Cavani foul on Verratti and you can SEE the cramp stiffening the Italian’s leg. Ouch-and-a-half.

Mark June 24, 20146:31 pm

Gerrard for Wilshere. “The only thing to look forward to…the past” (Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads theme tune).

Ian June 24, 20146:31 pm

I think you might have to qualify for the Sitcom World Cup for that joke.

Ted June 24, 20146:30 pm

Ciro Immobile is replaced by Cassano, having received a knock which – you guessed it – made it difficult for him to move

Mark June 24, 20146:30 pm

Video technology, BTW, is quick enough to use on corner/goalkick decisions. I thought that 4 years ago, too.

Mark June 24, 20146:26 pm

Stuani has been brought on to strengthen Uruguay’s attacking power…which seems a contradiction in terms.

Mark June 24, 20146:25 pm

Suarez denied by a fine Buffon save, which looks even better on replay.

Ted June 24, 20146:24 pm

Had England still been able to advance in the tournament, I suspect ITV would have done the same thing.

Mark June 24, 20146:24 pm

I’m on Italy pictures and England commentary. Which is wrong somehow.

Mark June 24, 20146:23 pm

Is the England game nearly a minute ahead of the Italy one, or is it just my Betamax PC.
Sturridge misses England’s best chance. Not “better” at all.

Ted June 24, 20146:23 pm

Ooh. Jack Wilshire plays Dean Sturridge, sorry, Daniel Sturridge in and he obliges by neatly curling his shot wide of the post.

Ted June 24, 20146:22 pm

Both of these matches are so stodgy I’m flicking between the two just trying to remember the rules

Mark June 24, 20146:20 pm

Mmmm…Italy with nine behind the ball for half an hour. The words “a certain grim fascination” enter my head.

Mark June 24, 20146:19 pm

Rodriguez has just missed a good chance for Uruguay, after a 1-2 with Suarez. Italy on the brink?
“Pretty brutal tackle” says Tyldesley of a foul on Barkley, over a slo-mo of Barkley “already on the way down” long before contact…not that Tyldesley said so.

Ted June 24, 20146:19 pm

There’s every chance the referee got his card out to try and spice the match up.

Ted June 24, 20146:18 pm

As I say that, Marchisio is sent off for Italy. The only thing that has happened.

Ted June 24, 20146:17 pm

everyone is welcome to do the Italy game, I’m just imagining a football match with Paul Shane in it.

Mark June 24, 20146:16 pm

Ooooh, can I do the Italy game from now on then? Please, please, PLEASE???

Ian June 24, 20146:16 pm

The Group Of Death-Rattle.

Mark June 24, 20146:16 pm

The Group of Deadly Dull was my old version. Looks like a different sport to Brazil and Mexico’s group last night.
Barkley moans at his booking, after replays of the three fouls in one movement he committed on Gamboa.

Ian June 24, 20146:15 pm

That Italy match was so terrible that I lasted eleven minutes before switching back to the England match.

Ted June 24, 20146:12 pm

I don’t know if there’s a Group Of Death at this World Cup. This is undeniably the Group Of Bloody Deathly.

Mark June 24, 20146:12 pm

Quick check on Italy/Uruguay reveals a Suarez look so anguished, Ian would use it as a screen-saver. 0-0.

Ted June 24, 20146:09 pm

the England football team are the best British sitcom of all time

Mark June 24, 20146:08 pm

Costa Rica’s early second half pace suggests they are in “one point wins the group” mode. Which, of course, it does. Parolo has replaced Balotelli.
Meanwhile, Sturridge is through but his control is best described as “air-traffic” (copyright WSC re Steve Bull – there’s a “British” sitcom for you).

Ted June 24, 20146:07 pm

Under my Italy, Uruguay and England all get eliminated rule, the team that finished top of Group C would either receive a bye into the quarter finals, or would have to face the cast of Comrade Dad.

Ted June 24, 20146:05 pm

We’re under way (and fouling again) in Natal. Balotelli has been replaced but I don’t really care who replaced him.

Mark June 24, 20146:03 pm

Loved Balotelli’s booking. He tried to leapfrog Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira (a squat Thierry Henry) and NEARLY made it. Dire in Natal but more efforts on goal, according to PA – twice as many. Stats, eh?

Ted June 24, 20146:03 pm

Spaced didn’t make the list, falling foul of the “too good” and “too recent” rules

Ian June 24, 20146:02 pm

There’s 24 players per squad, isn’t there? Perhaps Costa Rica should be allowed to enter two teams in the next round.

Mark: Tyres in Spaced says “Oi-Oi”, but that was the best part of fifteen years ago.

Mark June 24, 20146:00 pm

I’m SURE this has been asked a-plenty. But Ray Winstone: “Who ate all the pies? Oi-Oi.” Who, WHO says “Oi-oi???” When have you ever heard it? So why does he say it? Please tell me its not some sort of parallel universe nutjob copyright issue???

Ted June 24, 20145:59 pm

As regards Ian’s quandary, I think it would only be fair – for the sake of sustaining the quality of this otherwise excellent World Cup – if BOTH Uruguay and Italy were eliminated along with England. All three have stunk the place out.

Ian June 24, 20145:58 pm

Mark, if it helps at all, you’re three years younger than my sister.

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads is sitcom gold, and therefore must not be included in this. If it wasn’t UK only, I would strongly recommend “My Mother The Car.”

Ted June 24, 20145:57 pm

The Likely Lads and its brethren could yet make it in, I thought long and hard about it. It’s been that kind of first half.

Mark June 24, 20145:56 pm

I take your point, Ted…although the Ian Wright reference made me readjust momentarily. Wright doesn’t think it was a penalty BTW. Nor does Dixon, who gives out the “anywhere else on the pitch” line.
Likely Lads sitcoms before your times? Please say no. I feel old enough as it is.
England fans gallow humour at the match is admirable…and funny.

Ted June 24, 20145:54 pm

The thing about Barry Davies being the commentator, of course, is that it takes a good 10 minutes for you to realise. Because Barry Davies realises the dear, sweet ability to shut their face is a commentator’s most treasured.

Ted June 24, 20145:52 pm

The sitcoms aren’t necessarily supposed to be funny, they merely need to have an intangible quality of British Sitcom about them. It’s the sort of endeavour I just know Ian Wright would applaud.

Mark June 24, 20145:50 pm

And On the Buses must have had a fcuking easy group. Ukraine, Montenegro, Moldova, San Marino and Poland, perhaps?

Ted June 24, 20145:50 pm

Instead of half time analysis, I’ve switched to BBC 2 where Canada’s next-big-thing Eugenie Bouchard leads Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 2-1 at Wimbledon. More importantly, where our commentator is Barry Davies.

Ian June 24, 20145:48 pm

I’ve switched over to the Italy vs Uruguay match because, although it’s dismal, at least it matters. I can’t decide who I want to get knocked out more. On the one hand, I would pee pure schadenfreude for about a month if Italy were knocked out. On the other, however, there’s a good chance that Luis Suarez would cry if Uruguay were knocked out. Decisions, decisions.

Ted June 24, 20145:47 pm

HALF TIME in Natal. It’s Italy 0-0 Uruguay. What sort of match has it been? Well, I’m trying to work out a seeding system for a Sitcom World Cup, what do YOU think?

Mark June 24, 20145:47 pm

Can I boycott this on behalf of Porridge on the basis that SURELY it is too good and over the inclusion of Love Thy Neighbour. I KNOW the white guy is the thick one of the four main characters. But it just wasn’t funny….
Oh, BTW, 0-0 at h-t in BH. CR 0 England 0. “Some encouraging signs, we’re quite happy at half-time but we’ve said that before.” notes Chiles, pinpoint accurately. Wonder what Ian Wright thinks of it. No I don’t.

Ted June 24, 20145:43 pm

I’ve already had to dismiss things for being “too good”: e.g. Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister, Steptoe And Son. Also, Steptoe and Son would have difficulty putting out an eleven. Even if they played the horse.

Ted June 24, 20145:41 pm

Here is the list of qualifiers so far. As you may note, I’ve chosen sitcoms of a certain, shall we say, type.

Ian June 24, 20145:41 pm

Judging by the number of suggestions I’m getting through, we may need to have qualifiers.

Mark June 24, 20145:38 pm

I know it wasn’t as good as Porridge. But Going Straight would surely make the play-offs at least.

Ian June 24, 20145:38 pm

I estimate midnight on Saturday to be the perfect time to do this. Live on YouTube.

Ted June 24, 20145:37 pm

Once the 32 is finalised, we’ll need to work out eight seeds and do the draw.

Ted June 24, 20145:37 pm

In Natal meanwhile, I’ve just replaced Oh, Doctor Beeching! with Curry And Chips in the list of qualifiers.

Ian June 24, 20145:36 pm

Check my replies on Twitter. The Sitcom World Cup is causing a ripple of interest.

Mark June 24, 20145:36 pm

Sturridge heads over after an extended riff on penalty box jostling by both commentators. “There’s no fifth official behind the goal,” moans Tyldesley. Missing them now, after two years mocking them. Stinking hypocrite.
All England at the minute, though.

Ted June 24, 20145:35 pm

I’ve got a list of 32 now, this could be the greatest sporting event of our lives. Italy vs Uruguay isn’t.

Ted June 24, 20145:34 pm

Considering that this is Group D’s thrilling one-team-must-win shootout, the atmosphere seems largely disinterested.

Ian June 24, 20145:34 pm

Had a suggestion of “Love Thy Neighbour” for the Sitcoms World Cup on Twitter. I cannot see that ending well, so they have to be included.

Mark June 24, 20145:31 pm

Half-hour gone and the future isn’t looking that much different from the past yet, although its a bit more energetic.

Mark June 24, 20145:30 pm

That “Smalling, big time” pun was not deliberate, which possibly makes it worse.

Mark June 24, 20145:29 pm

Sturridge “about to knock that one in” but is muscled off the ball by Duarte. Townsend thinks penalty. No-one else, possibly not even Sturridge, agrees. I’ve seen them given. But wrongly.
And Townsend has it in for Smalling, big time.

Ian June 24, 20145:26 pm

I fully endorse the Sitcoms World Cup idea. We should do a draw and EVERYTHING. The Democratic People’s Republic of Citizen Smith definitely needs to be in there.

In other news, I’m home from work now. BEN FOSTER IS PLAYING IN GOAL?

Mark June 24, 20145:25 pm

“Just eluded Jack Wilshere” has been the phrase of the game so far. But England have had the edge, despite Borges’ effort.

Mark June 24, 20145:24 pm

Foster tips a Borges free-kick onto the bar. Or at least the ref thinks so as he’s given a corner.

Ted June 24, 20145:23 pm

Mario Balotelli will miss the next match, booked for a ludicrously high boot.

Ted June 24, 20145:22 pm

Apologies to supporters of Uruguay and Italy but I am mainly just typing out a list of 32 sitcoms at the moment.

Mark June 24, 20145:20 pm

Sitcoms. Porridge. That is all.

Mark June 24, 20145:19 pm

“Good spot” by Sturridge as he “sees the keeper 3 or 4 paces off his line” and…fires his shot five yards over and six yards wide.

Ted June 24, 20145:18 pm

This weekend we should probably construct and play out a full World Cup of Sitcoms.

Ted June 24, 20145:17 pm

Quarter of an hour gone in Natal, still 0-0 between Italy and Uruguay. The closest we’ve come is a long-range free kick from Pirlo. It’s been one of those sort of games. Blowing across the field are two balloons tied together, one is white and one is red. It reminds me of my scrotum.

Mark June 24, 20145:16 pm

Intermittent boos from the crowd at BH. Sounds like England fans aren’t joining in the Mexican wave. The sort of surly, insular, sniffy attitude I……………….
…………………………………….wholeheartedly applaud.

Ian June 24, 20145:16 pm

I’ll be home in five minutes, and the big decision I have to make is that of whether to put the football on or watch nine consecutive episodes of Are You Being Served.

Ted June 24, 20145:14 pm

If ‘Allo ‘Allo – big hitters with real international pedigree – fail to advance, I’m sure questions will be asked about too much foreign talent diluting the player pool

Mark June 24, 20145:12 pm

Pacy, encouraging start by England. I have them to win this, although a dodgy offside decision has just saved them. Two “betters” from Townsend in the first 7 minutes. But at least there’s 2 games to be better than.
Sturridge fires wide. No pics yet of England’s new co-managers, Perry and Croft.

Ted June 24, 20145:12 pm

Oh Doctor Beeching DID NOT QUALIFY

Ted June 24, 20145:11 pm

Dad’s Army, You Rang M’Lord?, Are You Being Served? and ‘Allo ‘Allo. There’s the REAL group of death.

Ian June 24, 20145:10 pm

The Libero.

Ted June 24, 20145:09 pm

Pollard was the playmaker

Ian June 24, 20145:09 pm

I can’t remember any of the cast of that programme apart from Pollard, Holland and Shane (c).

Ian June 24, 20145:07 pm

Eagle eyed readers will have noted that I’ve listed the cast of Dad’s Army rather than today’s England team.

Coming up, Costa Rica, as represented by the cast of You Rang, M’Lord.

Mark June 24, 20145:06 pm

Mind you, my first glimpse of the “future” – “Lampard…Milner…”

Ian June 24, 20145:05 pm

The England team to play Costa Rica: Dunn, Lavender, Lowe, Le Mesurier, Lowe (c), Pertwee, Ridley, Beck, Lawrie, Williams, Flanagan.

Surprise call up for Bud Flanagan, who died in 1968.

Mark June 24, 20145:05 pm

OK, I’ll do England. I’ll be here at the start of the future. England are playing 4-3-3. “Lets see if this is the magic formula,” Tyldesley. “We’re going home, we’re going home, England’s going home” – England fans. “Meaningless bollocks” – Townsend.

Ted June 24, 20145:03 pm

We’re under way in Natal. The two teams have just been feeling each other out for the first few minutes. i.e. fouling each other.

Ted June 24, 20145:01 pm

the teams for this winner-takes-all-unless-it’s-a-draw-then-Italy-take-all match:

ITALY: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Darmian, De Sciglio, Verratti, Pirlo, Marchisio; Immobile, Balotelli
URUGUAY: Muslera; Caceres, Giminez, Godin, Pereira; Gonzalez, Arevalo, Rodriguez, Lodeiro; Suarez, Cavani

Italy with four changes from their game with Costa Rica, Uruguay unchanged from the England game.

Ian June 24, 20144:58 pm

Oh, I’m just going past your house.

Ian June 24, 20144:57 pm

I’ll watch the England match IF I EVER GET HOME.

Ian June 24, 20144:57 pm

Good evening, brothers and sisters, and welcome to another day of final round matches. Italy vs Uruguay is the one to watch, of course, but I’ll be keeping more than half an eye on whether Costa Rica decide to have mercy upon Roy Hodgson’s soul as well.

Seven minutes to kick off by my reckoning, and idiot car drivers who refuse to use the Shoreham bypass and drive along the coast have slowed traffic to a crawl.

Ted June 24, 20144:55 pm

It’s a bad start for Italy, as the obligatory pan across their team during the national anthem reveals them to be bloody awful singers.

Ted June 24, 20144:54 pm

I should stress at this stage that I’m not watching the England game, hopefully someone else will be along who has drawn that particular short straw to keep us abreast of matters of less pith and moment.

Ted June 24, 20144:53 pm

Greetings, sports fans.